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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

it's not even for the bit...

I'm looking at my belongings, which are placed out strategically in front of me, and there's nothing out of the ordinary - just a Longchamp bag with a molded leather flap I have had since the 8th grade and a ridiculously large bowed pastel blue claw clip that cost me 15 dollars too many (given that I work part-time minimum wage.) In similar fashion to childhood me, with the t-shirts with the scratch and sniff chocolate covered strawberries and girl boss sayings inscribed on them, there was no irony in what I am attempting to accomplish. This is plainly put, me. I think about walking into work five minutes late, with an iced coffee that I will slowly sip on until it becomes diluted with its own juices, and I'll wonder if the 10 minute detour to the coffeeshop near me was worth having to run across the mall parking lot in heeled boots that click clack behind me. The situation causes me to recall the first day of high school when I left my backpack locked in the gymnasium, overwhelmed by too many new faces and an intense sports practice, but mainly just forgetful. One of the first friends I made had caught me scribbling the answers to my homework down furiously - a pattern which I would repeat when I wrote every single English essay in the free period that day it was due. That same friend, watching anxiously, leaning over my shoulder, as I described Reverend Dimmsdale's struggle with toxic masculinity in the most scathing, opinionated way (even though I had probably not read the book.)

I'll share a secret - Camilla Cabello is in my top five artists on Spotify. In middle school, I used to bumble around recess alone while actively resenting my existence. One time, a basketball clambered me on the head and I swear, I lost consciousness for about 15 seconds. In high school, I had too many friends that eventually I had none because the universe thought I was going too well. So, friend groups became what I clang too, but turns out you can feel just as lonely in them as you could all alone tucked in your bedroom at 8 p.m. At least 2005's Pride and Prejudice is always there if I ever need it.

I'm not an ultra-competitive person, but when playing Scrabble with my family I have resorted to flipping the board at least three times, if not more. I'd like to claim I was driven to madness by being given five E tiles, but really, I didn't want my older sister to be able to say that she beat me. Another time, I played Uno with my high school friend group and lost. Tell me why I freaked out and started nearly crying. Then, when I got up to complete the punishment for the loser, to jump into the pool, I stepped on my pair of lavender Ray Bans that I had begged my parents to get me for Christmas. When I climbed out of the pool, I went the long way around and walked into a rose bush, cutting my leg open and effectively losing the respect of everyone around me. This is why I don't volunteer to play board games with my friends.

The first time I went to Italy with my family, I was so out of shape that I had to elevate my legs after the first day we spent walking around Rome. I had jumped from a mere 2,000 average steps to around 20,000. I packed the least functional outfits, which you would have hoped would have at least been stylish, but they were not. My cousin posted a video to her Instagram story which I did not know she had taken. In it, I am hunched over in my seat, my shoulders caving into my place setting, absolutely shoveling a bowl of clams and spaghetti into my mouth. It finally struck me as reasonable that I had never had an interested party like The Kissing Booth had showed me I would.

As a first-grader would, I disappeared into my room with a pair of scissors and walked down the stairs with 5 inches chopped off of my hair. One side was only half an inch shorter than the other, and the Sabrina Carpenter bang's tutorial had proved itself somewhat helpful. I went downstairs and besides for a little hemming and hawing, we ate dinner unbothered by the occurrence. It would have been more shocking for anyone to be shocked. I'm 23 with half a penny to my name, why would I waste my money on a haircut when I could waste it on clothes instead?

Last week, I went to Italy again in much better shape, with a much better wardrobe (so-long to the New York city apartment whose savings I have effectively wasted on little pastel hair bows and matching shirts.), and much better mental health. The last night of the trip after drafting an unhinged review for our instructor (which I was told not to post which in hindsight is a great judgment call), I received sobering news. As I exited out of Trip Advisor, I received a rejection email from a job I had just interviewed for. The mood was perfect, it was pouring rain and dark outside. I walked down the steps slowly and theatrically, singing "What was I made for?" for my family as I acknowledged the possibility that my parent's couch might be claimed by me forever.

The flight home was 10 hours, one of which the turbulence was so unsettling that I kept repeating "I am jello, I am jello." I watched an entire season of New Girl. I ate an entire bag of Fruitella. I dove into my twentieth rewatch of 2005's Pride and Prejudice, rewinding when I missed the hand-flex scene. I audibly laughed out loud to Shrek, fell asleep 30 minutes into it and rewinded it only to fall asleep again. When Shrek 2 was nowhere to be found, I watched Moana. Moana had me sobbing every time she opened her mouth to sing. Despite my previous crippling fear of flying, I now recognize it as the perfect opportunity to fit into the mold of the humans from Walle, consuming an unapologetic amount of media and staying in a seated position for half a day. Would that I could repeat that cycle every day.

Still categorically unemployed, still can't parallel park, still watching the Bachelor as religiously as a sermon. My foot is in my mouth 98% of the time and the other 2%, my fingernails are. If no one is laughing at my jokes, I at least know that I will be. The finale song from Theater Camp is my new personality (which made me sob on the first flight to Rome) and so is the new Mean Girls movie. I gave up chips and dips for Lent, but have given myself dispensation to eat both separately. See last night when I put a spoonful of Salsa in my mouth and then after a five-second pause, a tortilla chip. Am I going to Hell? See, intense catholic guilt and obsession with being perceived as "good". Don't know if anyone who identified most with Tawny from Sonny with a Chance can be categorically seen as good.

As always, the moldy Longchamp must be symbolic. Is it just trying to tell me that I am a mess, but a beautiful mess. Or is it saying, get a new bag and stop carrying around a piece of moldy crap? Here's my logic - the bag was expensive and the moldy bits are on the inside of the flap, thus making them indiscernible to the average passerby. Anyone close enough to the bag would be a person who knew me well enough to know that a moldy bag, is in fact, not abnormal. But, in fact, completely in character. Kind of like spilling the iced coffee which made me late for work on the floor of the mall, right outside LuluLemon, pulling a paper napkin out of my bag to help before custodial services told me to back off. Ah,

"Camp isn't home, but is it, kind of?

Kind of it is

I think it kind of is

Camp isn't home, but is it, kind of?

Kind of it is

I think it kind of is"

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